Unapologetically American

Sent home from high school for wearing red, white, and blue on Cinco de Mayo?! What? It's true. Five boys from Morgan Hill High School in California were told that they could wear clothing depicting the American flag on any other day but Cinco de Mayo, because it's disrespectful and insensitive to Mexican-Americans.

Administrators instructed them to turn their American-flag t-shirts inside out and remove other red, white, and blue accessories or face suspension. The boys opted to leave school for the day instead.

I read the report and watched the news clip repeatedly, trying to wrap my mind around the incident. Is it not possible to be a proud citizen of the United States of America and still be respectful of the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo?

Are Mexican schoolchildren chastised for wearing green, white, and red or clothing depicting their national flag on the Fourth of July? The very idea sounds ridiculous.

Where else but in the United States of America would the expression of national pride be seen as an insult to other nationalities? Never mind that one of the reprimanded boys is an American of Hispanic descent. Was he disrespecting his own heritage by wearing red, white, and blue on a Mexican holiday? The idea is ludicrous.

It has become unpopular for citizens of the U.S.A. to express pride in their country. It's okay for Mexicans, Canadians, Pakistanis, Iraqis and citizens of every other country but not citizens of the U.S.A. I wouldn't be surprised if it became politically correct for the American flag to be made smaller and flown lower than other flags on U.S. Government property. You know, as a sign of respect for legal and illegal immigrants in our country.

I fear for our country. I grew up in the Reagan era where communism was the biggest threat to our nation. But, today, it seems that the biggest threat to our nation comes from within. As we sit down to tea with terrorist and invite them to discuss their feelings, as we apologize for our standing as a super-power, and punish our children for expressing national pride, it seems obvious to me that the biggest threat to America is America herself.

Somewhere along the way, America lost her *"swagger" and I don't see that as a good thing, but then I never saw the U.S.A. as being a world-bully. I have always seen our nation as one that defends those who cannot defend themselves that gives wherever there is a need. Is the United States a perfect nation? Of course not, but it's a nation with a great-big, beautiful heart.

On a personal note, one of our children was abducted while we were living overseas and working for a non-profit organization. It might not have happened had we been given proper protection. Every other expatriate that we knew there lived behind high chain link fences, fronted with metal panels, and topped by razor wire, but because we were American citizens that level of protection would be seen as arrogance, as us setting ourselves above the nationals. Never mind that Australians, New Zealanders, Germans, Canadians, etc. all lived that way for their own safety. It was okay for them but not for U.S. citizens. And so the organization we worked for knowingly and willingly left us vulnerable.

Was our "humility" respected? It was not. Our child was taken from us in the middle of the night while we slept. We were easy targets with our great big American hearts. The local police later told us that in their country people who leave themselves vulnerable to attack are seen as stupid and therefore fair game. I'll never forget the police officers unapologetic shrug.

Eventually, the non-profit organization we worked for reluctantly put proper security measures in place.

It was the first time I'd seen Americans making themselves vulnerable as a means of apologizing for, what, our wealth and super-power status? Is that it? But what about the fact that we were there, living in a dark and dangerous place because we wanted to help?!

I see sharp parallels here. I see our nation adopting the same attitude as the non-profit we worked for and likewise making her citizens vulnerable. In fact, so many Americans have already embraced the idea like lambs led to slaughter, just as we embraced the idea back in a country far, far away, and nearly lost a child.

I'm writing about it from this angle because it's personal to me, because I see this newly "humble" America making herself increasingly vulnerable as she seeks to honor others above herself. It sounds very noble, doesn't it? Well, I don't see a whole lot of appreciation coming from outside our borders. I don't see a positive trend in world opinion. I see other nations showing their teeth while America willingly muzzles herself.

We shouldn't apologize for national pride on Cinco de Mayo or any other day nor should we teach our children to do so. My child was hurt in part because the organization we worked for felt a need to apologize for its national affiliation.

©Just Kate, May 2010

Urban Dictionary: *Swagger is the confidence exuded as a reflection of ones dress, game, attitude, and how one handles a situation.

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.

    Music

    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin